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A Syst­OMICS approach to ensuring food safety and reducing the economic burden of salmonellosis


Generating solutions




2014 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition – Genomics and Feeding the Future

Genome Centre(s)



Project Leader(s)

Fiscal Year Project Launched


Project Description

It used to be that poultry was the usual suspect in cases of Salmonella poisoning.  Today, however, most outbreaks of the illness come from fruit and vegetables, which  become infected from the soil they grow in when that soil is polluted by animal waste  or non­potable water. There currently is no method of reducing the growth of Salmonella on such produce.

Each year, Salmonella infects some 88,000 people in Canada who consume  contaminated food. And while many people suffer no ill effects, or a mild case of  abdominal cramps, fever or diarrhea, others experience more serious infections, which  can result in dehydration or infection travelling beyond the intestines, requiring medical  attention and resulting in disability or even death. Salmonella infection is thought to  cost the Canadian economy as much as $1 billion each year in medical costs,  absences from work and economic losses to food companies and restaurants.

Dr. Lawrence Goodridge of McGill University and Roger C. Levesque from IBIS,  Université Laval, are leading a team that is using whole genome sequencing to  identify the specific Salmonella strains that cause human disease. With this  knowledge, the team will develop natural biosolutions to control the presence of Salmonella in fruit and vegetables as they are growing in the field. The team will  also develop new tests to rapidly and efficiently detect the presence of Salmonella on fresh produce before it is sold to consumers, as well as tools to allow public  health officials to determine the source of Salmonella outbreaks when they occur,  so that contaminated food can be quickly removed from grocery stores and restaurants. Their  work will reduce the number of people infected with Salmonella each year, as well as the  economic costs of the infection.

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